There is one thing that all readers either highly anticipate or doubtfully dread: their favourite book series is getting an expansion.
These days, a series expansion can either be done with sequels or prequels and in my experience, you will never know if this is a good thing or a bad thing until you’ve actually read the book in question. There are some very well deserving series that required prequels or sequels because there was so much of the story left to be told to characters felt unresolved, but then there are times when it’s more than obvious that this expansion is yet another money grab for the publisher.
Think of it like the Star Wars saga: the prequels were important to show the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker and to explain how he ended up becoming the great Darth Vader, but did we really need the sequel trilogy where Palpatine not only inexplicably survived but also had descendants? No, no we did not.
These five series are like the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Some people like them, but we didn’t really need them in our lives for the better.
The Ballad of Songbirds and sNakes by Suzanne Collins
The issue here isn’t that Suzanne Collins decided to come back and expand on The Hunger Games universe, because I’m sure every fan would love to jump right back into this dystopian world, but the issue is the story she came back with. The idea of writing a book from the perspective of the original series’ antagonist, President Snow, as a teenager and more or less showing how he became a murderous dictator that got off on killing children is something that essentially defeats the purpose of Katniss’s story and, honestly, is a bit insulting to her character. Of all the characters to write a prequel for, she goes with Snow? Really? A prequel like this ruins all the work the original trilogy did, in my opinion.
The Heir by Kiera Cass
In my experience, writing sequel stories on the original protagonist’s children is a very tricky thing to do and the only thing The Heir, and its sequel The Crown, showed me was that this wasn’t something that was necessary. The passage of time between The Selection and The Heir was quite evident and while the former’s story worked well for the YA market in 2012, the latter’s didn’t quite work for 2015 where the market was beginning to change vastly. But as a whole, the sequels were relatively underwhelming and since they add no substance to this universe you can live without reading them. Plus, the way The Crown ended was horrible. So there’s that.
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
The Pretty Little Liars series was the one that just would not die. Originally there were only supposed to be four books, then it got extended to eight books and we thought that was the end of it. But oh no, HarperCollins wanted even more, so Shepard churned out another four books and when we thought that was finally it, they published four more, bringing the series’ grand total to sixteen books. I can’t complain about the actual story and plot itself because each time, Shepard found a way to twist and turn the story in an inventive way, but the fact that this series went on and on and on made you want to scream “enough already!” So if you ever want to know what a money grabbing book series is, look no further. However, it was still infinitely better than the television adaptation, another thing that seemed to go on and on.
Like Us by Krista and Becca Ritchie
Let this be a cautionary tale for all self published authors. I don’t like to talk about this series or these authors anymore, for a multitude of reasons, but this is a similar scenario as that of The Heir where they decided to write about the main characters’ children which truly did more harm than good. A lot of backlash came from this sequel series, and I don’t have time to explain it all, but the way the Ritchies decided to handle these new characters and their stories was something the fans of the original series did not expect and could tell that they cared about one thing for these sequels, and it wasn’t writing a sensible plot or well-developed characters. It was a mess and many of us wish it never happened because unlike The Heir, these sequels will ruin everything fans used to love about the Addicted series. At least, it did for me.
Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer
And the grand prize of a money grabbing publishing scheme goes to…Midnight Sun! I will say a disclaimer that I’ve never read Twilight, nor will I ever, but even I know that this is not a book we need. What bothers me most about this release is not just that Meyer is coming back with a story that’s 15 years old and her original market has grown up and (hopefully) moved on, but it’s that she’s coming back with the same tired story from 15 years ago but just from a different perspective. There’s also the mess where chapters of this work was leaked years ago and Meyer shut down the project indefinitely, so it makes you wonder what the magic number was for her to finally allow it to be published. Prequels like this are tiring and overall, unnecessary. And if you’re really quiet, you can hear Robert Pattinson crying into his new Bat Suit, thinking he was finally free from this. Poor guy.
If anything, these books should serve as an example for what not to do with sequel and prequel stories. There are stories that do benefit from sequels and expansion, but sometimes you have to wonder if it’s for the reader’s benefit or the publishing house’s. Ah, capitalism at its finest, eh?